Over the years, minimalism has become something of a force. So much so that self-proclaimed maximalists are forgoing “stuff” and embracing a clutter-free lifestyle. The question remains, what is minimalism and more importantly, why should you care?
Minimalism is many things (yet many things it is not). Keep reading to discover the art of minimalism…
What is minimalism?
Surprisingly, minimalism emerged as an art form in the late 1950s and carried on into the 1970s with an array of artists such as Frank Stella, Donald Judd, Agnes Martin and Carl Andre all creating minimalist works. At the centre of the minimalist art movement is a desire to create art that is simple and to get the viewer to reflect only on what they see right in front of them. In this instance, think of what painter Frank Stella said: ‘What you see is what you see.’
Slowly, the term ‘minimalism’ has filtered into all aspects of life, making its way to the clothes we wear, the products we use, our careers, right down to our health and the food we eat.
What we’re getting wrong about minimalism
One thing is for sure, minimalism is in. Take interior design for example, the word minimalism conjures up images of white painted walls, worn wood floors, neutral furnishings with hints of marble and green. For a certain price, you are able to buy and assume the image of a minimalist. The same goes for fashion. Normcore, the unisex, neutral-toned style has swept the world of fashion for its simplicity and supposedly unpretentious nature.
This is great, if your tastes happen to be aligned with the style and interior aesthetics to begin with but what happens when this the be-all and end-all when it comes to minimalism. This is what we’ve been getting wrong about minimalism. It is identified in Scandinavian furniture or plants when really we’re missing the true value of practicing minimalism.
So what is minimalism? Living more with less? Decluttering your life? Taking away what’s unnecessary? In a sense, yes, however the essence of minimalism lies in your attitude to the “stuff” in your life, whether that be figurative or literal. Just like the art movement, minimalism is all about embracing simplicity in all its forms.
How to be a minimalist
Here are a few tips on how to be a minimalist in every area of your life…
Food: Consider your food source, do you know where the food you eat comes from? What is your relationship with food? Often times, we don’t stop to think about eating. Understandably, it’s something that we do without thought. However, the food we eat has a major effect on our health. To be a food minimalist is to minimise the consumption of “junk food” (processed foods) and focus on eating mindfully. Aim for a healthy diet, full of unprocessed foods, bright fruit and vegetables, and lean protein.
Lifestyle: To simplify your life, switch off. With technology becoming more and more advanced, it’s having a bigger place in our lives, which means we’re spending more time plugged in. Try and limit your use of technology. In the same vein as this, spend some time with yourself in silence. According to studies, meditating improves concentration and relieves stress. Start off with 10 minutes of silent meditation and add on 5 minutes as you go along and get more comfortable.
Minimalism and the home go hand in hand. We’ve spoken about the importance of transforming a home before, and we’ll say it again; the home is a sanctuary. This is why minimalism works so well. De-clutter away, and get rid of anything that you’ve not used or is not useful.
Career: In terms of career, it can be difficult to think minimally. We praise a “work hard, play hard” mantra and often times, this means putting too much on our plate. To reverse this, focus on just one thing at a time. Also, get into the habit of creating lists. These boost productivity and allow you to get through your tasks in an efficient manner.
Fashion & beauty: Like the food you eat, consider where your clothes are coming from. If at all possible, try investing in clothing that is made under sustainable conditions (both for the workers and the environment). Also consider creating a capsule wardrobe that includes a good selection of clothes for all occasions that fit well and suit you. On the other side of this, get rid of anything that hasn’t been worn in years, doesn’t fit or has lost its quality.
In terms of makeup, get rid of any makeup that you don’t use or that is expired. Alongside this, a good list of items that you consider to be essential are necessary to keeping a minimal makeup bag.
To close, this quotation by the Dalai Lama perfectly sums up the essence of minimalism: ‘If one’s life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness…’
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